If you have been wondering how to stop binge eating at night and take control of your diet, you have come to the right place.
It seems that all day you do good with your diet only until the night time rolls around and you become a snacking machine.
You are eating everything in sight and just can’t seem to stop!
Don’t worry because in this article you and I are going to cover everything you need to know about how to stop binge eating at night.
The issue of binge eating at night is a complex one that every individual struggles with in a different manner.
I am going to lay out 5 of the most common reasons why you are binge eating at night and how to go about fixing them so no matter what your issue stems from, you will get an answer for it here.
To not dilly dally any further, let’s dive right in.
How To Stop Binge Eating At Night
Before I dive into anything I am going to talk about I have to make this very clear first and foremost.
I have helped tons of my online coaching clients who have struggled with binge eating in the past get to a place where they can overcome it and or at the very least manage it incredibly better.
I have first hand experience working with these individuals which is why I can write this article to offer my 5 most common scenarios an how to fix them.
Yet I will say this, I am not a therapist or mental health expert. I am a fitness and nutrition coach.
I have helped dozens of people with their binge eating but I am not naive to know that sometimes certain scenarios go beyond the scope of my practice.
This article is going to be speaking about what I know within my field of coaching clients on nutrition and fitness.
There will be some mental health information included as well, but I would encourage you reading this to see or speak with a therapist if you have ever thought once about it.
If that is something you are fortunate enough to have access to, I encourage anyone and everyone to do so.
Speaking with a mental health professional is something I believe will become more and more common over the next 10-20 years. Remember even the strongest people need help sometimes.
With that being made clear, let’s now dive into the top 5 things I have seen as a coach helping my clients on how to stop binge eating at night.
How To Stop Binge Eating At Night : 5 Most Common Scenarios
When it comes to binge eating, what I have found as a coach is normally there are patterns that pop up.
Something I talk about often is it usually isn’t the singular, specific event of the actual binge eating that is the issue.
There is usually a chain of events that leads up to that scenario, that is just the straw the broke the camels back.
Much like if you were to quit your job, you don’t just randomly decide on a whim to do so.
You are probably frustrated with your boss, the commute to work sucks, you don’t like your co workers.
Then maybe yes one day you say to hell with this, but it was the sequence of events that led up to that point.
Very similar situation here. Normally if you can pin point where you going wrong during the day, you can “break the chain” and a different outcome will at night.
Let’s dive into the top 5 most common chain of events and how you can fix each one.
1. Labeling Foods “Good” And “Bad”
If I had to pick the single most common scenario that leads to binge eating, it would be this right here.
Labeling foods good and bad.
In this world of health and fitness, people often look at foods on an extreme level.
A salad is “good”, a Oreo is “bad”. (I say shame on anyone who puts down oreos, they are amazing!!).
Eating plain chicken with broccoli is “good, eating a burger is “bad”.
The fitness space likes to swing on these extremes pendulums.
Here is the reality, there are no “good” and “bad” foods.
Because first off no one food is going to make you gain weight or make you inherently unhealthy.
The main thing that matters if you want to lose weight is that you are in a calorie deficit, aka you are eating less calories than your body burns.
As well as having a burger or an Oreo every now and then isn’t going to kill you. The fact that if you have them every day at every meal, that is the issue.
Food is simply that food.
A salad is going to have high filling foods for low calories.
An Oreo is going to taste absolutely amazing.
Chicken and broccoli is going to be high protein and very nutrient dense.
A burger is something you may share with your friends at a 4th of July bbq.
None of them are good or bad.
They are just food.
This notion that you are doing something wrong if you eat the Oreo or the burger is the single most common thing that leads to binge eating.
For a few reasons.
When you label these foods bad what happens? You restrict yourself from them.
In your head they are off limits and you should not have them.
Well, what happens then? The same thing that happens when you walk into the store and tell your kid “don’t touch anything”.
What do they do? Touch literally everything 4 seconds later.
When you label these foods bad you want them that much more. This creates this anxiety and stress in your that builds up and builds up.
Then eventually when you do have the Oreo, or the burger, what happens?
You don’t have it in moderation, you eat the entire sleeve of oreos or you absolutely demolish the burgers and fries.
Because at that point two things happen.
One, it is “off limits” so after you are done having it, you will go back to not being allowed to have it again.
Therefore when you do have it you are going to be sure to have all of it. You don’t have any in moderation.
Two, because it is a “bad” food you feel like you did something wrong. You feel guilty. You feel like a failure.
What happens then? Since you feel that way you think “Well, I already f*cked up, so might as well keep going”.
Which again leads to nothing in moderation and you completely binging out.
So, How Do You Fix This?
You first understand there is no such thing as good or bad foods.
Like I mentioned earlier, you can still eat oreos and lose weight.
You can still eat a burger and fries and be healthy.
How? Because as long as you are in a calorie deficit, you will lose body fat.
My online coaching client Mary here below lost over 80lbs eating some sort of dessert every single night.
If you want to learn more about a calorie deficit and figure out how many calories you should eat, feel free to head HERE to check out my free calculator.
Remember, everything in moderation. I mentioned earlier the fitness industry works in extremes, I don’t want you to do that.
The key to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle is moderation, not over restriction either way.
You can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and still be healthy, I promise.
In terms of how to stop binge eating at night, this is the first and possibly the most important piece of advice I can give you.
This how you “break the chain”.
2. Not Eating Breakfast
Man oh man, do people love skipping breakfast!
I get it. You might have an insanely busy morning. The kids are getting ready for school, the dog is running wild, you are trying to get yourself ready for work.
It can be incredibly easy to just let breakfast fall by the wayside.
Or maybe you just aren’t hungry at breakfast time, so it is easy to skip it and keep moving along with your day.
I am here to tell you, skipping breakfast is by far one of the biggest culprits to bing eating at night and I will explain why.
I understand you may not be hungry or you may not have time to cook a huge breakfast, but here’s what happens.
Let’s say you finish eating dinner around 7pm, then you snack the rest of the night. You go bed at 10pm, and wake up at 6am.
From the time you last ate to the time you woke up that is 11 hours.
Then once you are up, you skip breakfast for whatever reason falls under your scenario.
So at about 11 or 12 you finally get to eating some real food because you are damn starving by then. I mean, it has been 16 hours since you last ate.
You have a good size lunch because you haven’t eaten all day so you make sure to fill up.
This large lunch then fills you up and leaves you stuffed, making it so you don’t really eat until you arrive home.
Maybe a snack here or there, but nothing big.
You get home around 5-6pm and man, you are getting hungry.
In the last 22 hours you really only have eaten one meal. You get home and the hunger and cravings start to kick in.
You look for any food you can find. Chips, cookies, pretzels, anything. You chow down on those while you wait for dinner to be cooked.
600 calories of pretzels later, dinner is served. Those pretzels did nothing to actually fill you up or provide you any real nutrients, so you are still starving. It seems you can’t get enough!
Dinner rolls around and you stuff your face because you are damn hungry! You haven’t eaten any real food all day!
Even with stuffing your face you aren’t truly satisfied because again, your body didn’t get food all day so it is going to have to get some nutrients at some point!
This is where the almost uncontrollable binge eating at night happens. Since your body has been deprived of food all day, you are going to have to eat at some point. Your body needs calories to live.
Therefore when night time rolls around, you are going to make up for not eating all day and then some.
This is why when people come to me and say “ I do so good during the day I barely eat anything!”, that is in fact not a good thing at all.
That is the exact thing that is causing this chain of events to occur to end up leading you to binge eat at night.
So, How Do You Fix This?
It is quite simple actually, you make it a non negotiable to eat breakfast.
With many of my clients who come to me with this, this small change right here has made the world of a difference.
It doesn’t have to be huge starting off, you don’t need a gourmet meal, but something.
This could be a protein shake, a greek yogurt, an egg omelette.
Preferably you want to make it something with protein (we will talk about protein & it’s role of how to stop binge eating at night a bit later on).
Point being just make sure you get something. This can get some food in your stomach, get some calories in your system, and make you less of a ravenous beast at night.
Also, another tip that I have seen work with a few of my clients, try not to “save your calories” for night time. Aka, don’t under eat during the day just so you can eat more at night.
This usually is a sure fire way to promote binge eating. Eat more through out the day to eat less at night.
3. Not Eating Enough Protein
I mentioned it earlier and now we are here.
If there is one nutrient in the world that is under consumed more than anything it has got to be protein.
I can understand why, it is normally more expensive to make / sell and less convenient to eat.
I mean you can’t just carry around a warm chicken breast all day after all.
Yet that doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the biggest reasons why I see people binge eat at night.
Why is this?
Protein is by far the most satiating nutrient. This means it helps fill you up and keep you full the longest.
It helps keep your blood sugar / glucose levels stable as well, which helps fight off cravings.
If your blood sugar / glucose drops, your body is going to need a quick source of energy to get it back up.
What is this quick source of energy? You guessed it, sugar. Therefore this often comes in the form of sugar cravings.
The funny thing is your body doesn’t actually want sugar at all, it wants protein so it can be back to a normal level sustainably. Our brains just say “Get quick energy!” Which turns into sugar cravings.
If you would eat protein when you have sugar cravings, the cravings would go away and stay away.
As opposed to if you just keep eating sugar, as you probably know, you keep needing more and more because you can’t sustain the level it just goes up and down constantly.
This leads to continuous eating and eating and eating, aka binge eating at night.
So, How Do You Fix This?
Simply put you need to start eating more protein. There is no way around it.
It can be one of if not the bigger game changers for you.
If you want to know how much protein you should be eating, I did an entire YouTube video covering all things protein HERE.
If you want to check out some of my best ways to start adding in more protein into your diet, check out my article HERE .
Add in protein, break the chain.
4. Too Many Temptations
Let’s face it, we only have but so much will power in a day.
Being in control of your food takes willpower as well. It takes you being physically and mentally conscious of the actions you are taking.
It is not easy, we know this.
On top of that you have your kids, your spouse, the dog, your work and stress from that.
You have a ton of things pulling at your willpower each day.
The fact is your environment is going to dictate your outcomes sometimes.
If you constantly have chips, cookies, desserts, brownies, or whatever the thing you consistently seem to binge on in the house, guess what?
You are that much more likely to indulge in them.
That is not to say you can’t ever have these foods or they are off limits, because that was our first rule.
Yet the fact remains the more temptations you have in your house, when you are tired from the day, stressed from work and your kids, and you haven’t eaten all day long, it is going to be a hell of a lot easier to succumb to temptations.
So, How Do You Fix This?
Maybe instead of buying a whole box of oeros, you buy a two pack.
Rather than buying your favorite chips, buy a different option that you know you aren’t going to be as tempted with.
Or to be honest with you, if you know for a fact you can’t control yourself around a food, it may be a good idea to keep it out of the house for a short period of time.
I have had multiple of my online coaching clients in the past where we completely took a certain food out for two weeks.
After two weeks if we wanted to throw it back in, awesome, if not, that was okay too.
You can also take an Audit of your kitchen, specifically your counter.
Is your counter littered with chips, cookies, and desserts? It is a mess with other stuff as well?
Or is it clean, organized, and maybe having some apples or bananas out on it.
Control your environment, limit temptations, and break the chain.
5. Your Routine
We are all creatures of habits.
You normally do something over and over and over again in your day.
I am sure your night time routine is no different.
It probably looks something like you work all day, have dinner, throw on some loose and comfy clothes, sit in front of the tv and veg out for a few hours.
I get it, there is something to be said for periods of relaxation after you worked all day.
Yet if you constantly finding yourself binging out on the chips or cookies at night when you are watching Netflix, might be time to switch things up a bit.
So, How Do You Fix This?
Well, look at incorporating more mindful activities into your routine.
Often times this mindless-ness is what is causing you to binge. You are just sitting in front of the tv mindlessly snacking.
Try incorporating some different actives into your routine.
This could be exercising, this could be taking 5 minutes to journal your thoughts and what happened that day.
This could be taking 5 minutes to plan out your food for the next day or simply taking 5 minutes to meditate and practice awareness.
One of the things that has worked tremendously well for my online coaching clients is journaling. This helps not only be aware and conscious but it also helps de stress you from the day as well. Getting your thoughts, feeling, and emotions out can be a key driver when it comes to how to stop binge eating at night.
Something that is going to stimulate your ability to think, be mindful, and allow you to be in control of your actions.
Don’t just subconsciously let yourself demolish food in front of the TV. Break the chain.
How To Stop Binge Eating At Night : Journaling
I touched on this briefly above but wanted to make it’s own section because I believe it is that important.
A lot of people struggle with emotional and or stress eating. When you are sad, upset, or stressed, you turn to food for comfort.
Trust me, you are not alone, and this is incredibly common.
Just remember that the food is not going to solve the issue. After you are done eating the food, the same issues or problems will still be there.
Therefore when it comes on how to deal with these emotions, again I am no mental health professional, but one thing I have seen work wonders for my clients is journaling.
They set a 5 or 10 minute timer on their phone and use that timer to journal their thoughts, nothing else.
When you take time to sit down and truly journal your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, your brain has to work in a logical manner.
Often times in our heads our emotions can get so bottled up and it is like chaos up there. Journaling provides you an outlet to safely and effectively get your thoughts out.
This makes the logical side of your brain work. It is much like when you are telling your best friend a story that happened at work and you start it off by saying “Okay, this is going to sounds crazy but!”.
Why didn’t it sound crazy in your head, but when you say it out loud it does?
This is the same concept. When you journal you can get everything out, and after 5 or 10 minutes, if you still want to eat then by all means go right ahead.
Yet often times you will realize after 5 or 10 minutes of working through and getting your thoughts out, the urge to binge eat can dissipate.
You feel more in control, you feel less stressed, you feel a sense of calm.
I would strongly recommend using journaling as a way to help in your journey. I promise you it can make a world of a difference.
How To Stop Binge Eating At Night : Final Thoughts
Well there you have it. All of my thoughts on how to stop binge eating at night.
Again I realize this can be a complex topic with many underlying factors so once more, I would strongly recommend spewing with a mental health professional.
Beyond that, I hope what some of I was able to share with you today helped.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them below.
If you want to see if we may be a good fit for coaching together, I will link my application form HERE.
Beyond that just know you can do this. It is possible, I see it every single day. I am going to leave you with what one of my online coaching clients sent to me in a check in a few weeks back (during a global pandemic by the way!).
If she can do it, so can you.
Always here to help if you need me. Talk soon,